Immigrants Visiting Friends & Relatives
If you are an immigrant from a developing country returning home to Visit Friends and Relatives (VFR), you are at a higher risk than tourists for becoming ill.
You may not be aware that your naturally acquired immunity to life-threatening diseases, like malaria, decreases with time spent away from your birth country.
Travel-related infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis A are more common in VFRs than in other groups of international travelers for several reasons.
- VFRs tend to have longer trips and travel to higher risk destinations.
- VFRs are more likely to stay in private homes where it may be more difficult to adhere to safety precautions.
- VFRs are less likely to consult with travel physicians.
- Decrease your risk of becoming ill by consulting with a travel physician.
- Travel immunization recommendations for you, an immigrant going home, are the same as for other international travelers.
- If you have your childhood immunizations records, bring them to your travel clinic appointment. If you do not have records, you can be tested for immunity to some diseases, e.g. Hepatitis A. Without documentation of vaccination or testing, you are considered non-immune.
- Older drugs against malaria, such as chloroquine, proguanil and pyrimethamine, sometimes available outside of the United States, are often not effective. For the best protection against malaria, it is best to use current medications prescribed by a travel physician.
- Fill your prescriptions in the US. Medications purchased abroad may be counterfeit or substandard.
- Evaluate your U.S. medical insurance. Consider purchasing supplemental medical insurance if your policy does not provide sufficient international coverage.